There’s a lot that goes into your decision of where to do a faculty-led program – budget, distance, language, culture, academics and safety. There’s so many misconceptions about life on the continent. Some people think Africa – a continent with over 50 nations, is nothing but war, disease, and famine due to the media. Studying abroad in Africa offers students the opportunity to break down negative stereotypes about not only African life, but life outside of a “first world” country.
When you travel out of Africa and meet individuals who have never been to the continent, most of the time they tend to have certain perceptions that depict the continent in ways that are either not factual or are misleading. Today, we look at 5 factors that influence the destination for your faculty-led program.
When comparing the capital of one of the most developed cities in Africa to the capital city in the US, you will see that the cost of consumer prices in Washington, DC is 108.60% higher than in Johannesburg, South Africa. This combined with the fact that (as of 05/08/2020) the exchange rate; $1 (US Dollar) equals R17.23 (South African Rand) means that the purchasing power of students coming from the US is much higher than that if they decided to travel in the US or to Europe. For some context, a pound of white bread in Washington, DC costs on average $2.72 while in Johannesburg the cost of the same bread is R13.15 ($0.76). This all effectively means that traveling to Africa is cost effective, making it more attractive to students and tertiary institutions alike due to the good value for money being offered.
Africa is a huge continent, with such diversity and uniqueness within it. There are many destinations within Africa that are as close, if not much closer than many popular destinations in Europe, Asia and Australasia. When comparing the travel distance from the busiest airport in the US (Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport) to the closest popular city in Europe and that of an African one, you will notice that there is roughly only a 30 min difference in flight time. Africa has also over the years increasingly introduced direct flights to the popular destinations, and relaxed visa restrictions seeking to alleviate some of the travel burdens one usually encounters.
- Language and Culture:
When colonialism on the African continent began to end, a large number of countries began to use official languages that were mostly of an outside influence. English and French are spoken almost everywhere in Africa. They are commonly used as a means of overall communication, mainly when dealing with education, judicial, and business matters. More than 23 African countries use English as one of their official languages. Some of these are South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Nigeria
It is a common misbelief that Africans share a single culture because they are Africans. This is simply not true. In fact, Africa is so rich in diverse culture that no country throughout the continent is governed by the same culture. Undeniably, there are common cultures like Ubuntu; however, each ethnic group possesses their own unique set of cultural beliefs that they adhere to.
If you decide to study in Africa, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore different cultures, landscapes, sights and general adventures in this huge and diverse continent. Africa does also offer opportunities for high level education, there are a total of 11 African universities which are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2021. Africa’s highest internationally ranked University is the University of Cape Town (UCT) which ranked between 120th and 136th in the world.
Africa also strives to offer a healthy balance between theory and practice through “action learning”. This encourages the students to step outside of the conventional classroom and step into the communities where faculty and the students are able to apply their knowledge, whilst making progressive change. This ensures a meaningful cultural exchange and helps in transforming students into global citizens equipped to meet the demands of the future.
- Health and Safety:
Global news tends to focus on the negative, so many people around the world only hear of the wars, disease, and poverty that Africa has experienced. Negative associations and common misconceptions about Africa lead many people to falsely believe that all of Africa is unsafe to visit. Though there are parts of Africa that may not be recommended for foreigners to travel, that is not reflective of the continent as a whole. The tourism industry is a massively growing market in Africa and a large source of revenue for countries and local businesses, therefore governments and businesses are investing heavily into crime prevention to ensure the safety of their visitors. Major crime is also mostly found in certain areas that are outside of the city and away from the usual travelers routes.
There are also cases of tropical diseases like Malaria and epidemics such as HIV/AIDS. Even with limited resources within most of the healthcare systems in African countries, it may interest you to know that there are very good and well structured hospitals which are either government or privately owned that provide healthcare services to the population and its visitors. African countries are constantly monitored by the relevant US department, and most are safe to travel to with very few countries having a travel ban.
What does this mean?
The truth is that Africa is actually on the rise and studying abroad in Africa will have you front and center to all the greatness. African economies are advancing at lightning speed with development, startups, tech hubs, savvy apps, the growing middle class and tourism sectors all advancing at a rapid rate. Students will be able to make new friends and combine their bright young minds to contribute to the growth.
Africa offers a learning experience second to none and is the next learning destination of the world. As Arthur Schopenhauer once said “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” Therefore ask yourself, will offer your students the ability to challenge their perceptions and thus the ability to change the world. Will it be one day or day one?